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Sterk named Emory University president

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The 20th president of Emory, Claire E. Sterk took the helm of the University on September 1. Sterk has strong ties to Rollins, dating back to 1995 when she joined the faculty. During her tenure there, Sterk served as the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health, chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, and associate dean for research.

She went on, in 2005, to serve the university as senior vice provost for academic affairs and then provost and executive vice president for academic affairs beginning in 2013. The move across campus did not diminish her commitment to public health. “That’s where my passion lies,” she told Rollins faculty during a recent retreat. “It is at the core of who I am.”

Sterk’s primary research interests are addiction, mental health, and HIV/AIDS, with a focus on community-based interventions. Emory’s first female president, she is a leading international figure in the fields of public health and anthropology. Her husband and research partner, Kirk Elifson, serves on the faculty at Rollins.

“President Sterk has been an active teacher and a funded researcher her entire career,” says Dean James Curran. “She has 
a broad understanding of all aspects of academia. We could not be more proud of the fact that she began her Emory career as a faculty member in Rollins.”

A native of the Netherlands, Sterk earned her PhD in sociology from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a doctorandus degree in medical anthropology from the University of Utrecht.

She came to the United States in the 1980s and became a visiting scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where 
she worked on HIV/AIDS projects.

In addition to service on several editorial boards, she has held many professional leadership positions, including president of the Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco section of the American Sociological Association; board member of the Society for Applied Anthropology; and member of the National Institute of Health’s National Advisory Council of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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